This is probably the number one reason many folks don’t prep. After reading through dozens of websites and books, they feel overwhelmed with how much “stuff” they need to acquire and just don’t have the budget to go out and buy it all. The economy has been in the proverbial toilet for a few years now and people are really feeling the pinch. It can be difficult if not almost impossible to set food aside for down the road when one can hardly afford to put a meal on the table right now.
The reality though is stockpiling supplies is only one aspect of prepping. An important aspect, sure, but only one of many. Rather than lamenting the inability to go out and purchase a pallet or two of dehydrated food, concentrate on what you could do with little or no money.
You could learn new skills or brush up on old ones by visiting your local library. Even if they don’t have the specific book or video you want/need, they can probably get it through inter-library loan. Cost to you? Other than your time, zero.
Few people could argue the fact that the healthier you are, the better suited you’ll be to survive an emergency situation. Exercise costs you nothing and the benefits are priceless. If you’re broke, you probably shouldn’t be eating all that junk food anyway, right? Don’t overdo it and burn yourself out. Start small, cut back on some of the sweet treats and soft drinks, and burn some calories. Go for a walk every day and work your way up to jogging at least part of the time. Vary your routes so you don’t get bored. You don’t need fancy gym equipment either. Push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, all of those will build muscle and burn fat. While you’re at the library, consider checking out a video exercise program.
Hiking is another great way to burn calories. Find a local wilderness trail or park and spend some time tramping around in the woods. Bring along a guide to edible and medicinal plants and practice identifying them. Do the same with animal tracks and learn how to identify animal runs and scat.
While you’re outside, have a compass with you and get in the habit of determining directions. It takes some practice but soon you’ll just “know” which way you’re facing at any given time. Perhaps not down to the degrees and minutes of course, but you’ll know north from south. This isn’t something you can learn from a book, or even necessarily from the world around you. It is more of a sense you’ll cultivate. Knowing compass direction without the use of a compass is a tremendous asset if you end up lost someday.
A solar oven can be built from a cardboard box and aluminum foil. That could come in pretty handy during an extended power outage. Find instructions online and practice making and using one. While we’re talking cooking, when was the last time you cooked a meal over a campfire?
Online resources like Craigslist and Freecycle are great places to find useful items for free. From used camping gear to all manner of gadgets and gizmos, folks are jettisoning their junk on a daily basis. Take advantage when and where you can to pick up prepping supplies.
Around here, rummage sale season has started with a vengeance. Get out there early for the best selection. Don’t be afraid to negotiate on prices, though don’t low ball the seller either as that just gets awkward. Offer what you feel is a fair price. More and more rummage sales are starting earlier in the week too. When I was young, the sales were almost always on Saturday and Sunday. Today, I’m seeing them start as early as Wednesday and I almost never see them on Sundays. I’ve also known a few people who made a little extra cash buying stuff cheap at garage sales, cleaning and repairing the items as needed, and selling them online or at their own rummage sale. While not exactly the career of choice for most folks, some of those people made a fairly decent second income doing that.
I don’t care how broke you are, there is always SOMETHING you can do to be better prepared down the road. Prepping isn’t always about buying stuff, it is a lifestyle choice. Now, lest you feel I’m just giving lip service about prepping on the cheap, let me share this little tidbit about myself. It wasn’t all that long ago that I and my family went through a pretty rough patch financially. How rough? We made around $11k for one year and our house payment was $1000/month. Do the math. We came thisclose to losing everything. So yeah, I know what it is like to try to get by on next to nothing. It sucks, no two ways about it.
But it isn’t the end of the world. You learn to adapt, which is a survival skill unto itself.